An article published last week by Dr. Gearóid O’Suilleabháin of Munster Technological University on how the education system interacted with emergency remote teaching over the past 18 months really got me thinking about the year ahead. In the article, Dr. O’Suilleabháin challenges the negative narrative that has existed around emergency remote teaching. One of the most striking elements of the article was when our attention was drawn to the fact that emergency remote teaching ‘was a revolution in which more or less everyone took part’.
In contrast to most other initiatives involving educational technology, it was more than just the enthusiastic few taking part. Many who were reluctant (and even those who were proficient) all engaged in a learning journey which saw skill sets grow. It is fair to say that we have never had as many teachers (and students) proficient in the use of technological tools for education.
Hopes for 2021/2022
With the end of the emergency phase of the pandemic moving closer, the education system will move closer to ‘normality’ across all sectors. However, the place of technology in this new phase of the pandemic is yet to be decided. At present, this will be a decision for each individual school. The adoption of the Digital Learning Framework as a planning tool is something that should be implemented in schools at this stage.
Furthermore, the publication of the new ‘Digital Strategy for Schools’ this autumn is something that we should all look forward to. We can only hope that it is ambitious and, more importantly, adequately resourced to achieve its goals. There is certainly a momentum behind the use of technology to enhance educational experiences. For the next school year, I feel the following are essential in maintaining this momentum:
- Sustained CPD for teachers – For this, we would move behind the basic knowledge of using an online platform for assigning work, to using online tools that add layers to student learning.
- Professional Support Networks: Developing communities of practice for school and ICT leaders, potentially developed through the education centre network, where they can meet regularly and share good practice.
- Professional Agencies: Greater emphasis placed on how professional agencies can assist schools in turning digital vision into a reality.